Rebels celebrating first win since being back in NRRRL
SOUTH Grafton is in party mode today after the Rebels recorded their first win since readmission to the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
Lower Clarence Magpies started the game confident after a heartbreaking loss to Evans Head Bombers last weekend while the Rebels lined up for the Maclean Showground clash as the only team yet to taste victory this season.
That all changed at about 4.45pm yesterday, when the referee's whistle blew full-time with the Rebels leading 34-30.
Rebels' coach Grant Stevens was beaming with pride as the siren sounded, elated at finally securing his first win as coach.
"That was awesome," Stevens said.
"Getting your first win is something you love and it's great to finally break the duck.
"We did everything we worked on at training, the talk on the field was good and the defence on our line was awesome."
While the win will not lift the Rebels off the bottom of the NRRRL ladder, it gives them their first competition points and a victory that will be savoured.
To say it has been a long journey for the Rebels is an understatement.
They were pumped 52-0 by the Grafton Ghosts in their first game back, and suffered an embarrassing 76-0 loss to the Bombers in their first home game.
The 17 players that ran onto Maclean Showground yesterday would have made any battle-hardened Rebel proud.
"The lads' effort was a complete turnaround from last week," Stevens said.
"Our two centres were impossible to stop and Josh Rigg did well in his first game at fullback.
"We've got two weeks off now and we'll be ready to rip right back in."
Ben Woods was outstanding at lock, the centre pairing of Dwayne Duke and Aaron Martin proved more than a handful for their opposite numbers, and Rhys Walters finished with "a thousand tackles".
That is before you get to Josh Harris.
Harris may be one of the more underrated Rebels, but the second-rower showed why he is an integral part of their line-up.
While his goal-kicking radar may have malfunctioned and allowed the Magpies a sniff of victory, he more than made up for it with his solid defence.
Magpies coach Ricky Binge said it was easier picking the best player from the Rebels side than his own, lamenting a poor showing that he said started on the training ground.
"Only nine first graders showed up on Thursday and that makes it very hard to prepare," Binge said.
"The Rebels did what we couldn't; play smart footy and support each other. They'll beat a few other teams this year guaranteed.
"We'll go back to square one after the break and try to salvage what we can from the rest of the year."